Monday, December 21, 2009

PRM Facts - Never Spend More Than a Community Can Afford

You will find the facts on our local museum building and the current successes and failures of other museums around the country right here on this blog site.

WMBD TV is interviewing Peoria County Board member Brad Harding today in reference to the article in today's "Word On the Street" written by JS reporter Karen McDonald. Excerpts from this interview should be on the 6 PM news.

Read my recent blog where WMBD TV quoted the "project is 99% funded" questionable information being released by the PRM Committee and perhaps others. 99% of the funds for the museum building have not been raised as promised by the PRM Committee. Some of my facts are as follows, other facts have been posted on my numerous other museum blogs:

As of Oct., 2009, $14 million in cash had been raised but $10 million of the $14 million had been already spent including $3 million from Caterpillar paid and $4 million "held pending the completion of project funding". (Letter from Sid Banwart, Caterpillar, to the County Administrator dated August 21, 2009) Of the $15.2 million pledged by Caterpillar or its Foundation to the "museum project" including the $9,273.000.00 Cat shared underground parking garage. Another $100,000 is going to be spent (paid out of sales tax revenue) for a "peer" review of the underground parking facility. $40,000 is also going to spent for an environmental study. (Also to be paid out of sales taxes collected).

The originally priced $41 Caterpillar Visitors Center is totally funded by Cat. Recently, Caterpillar announced is may scale back it's VC depending on economic conditions.

Pledges in an amount of $11.2 million; pledges that everyone knows, is not "money in the bank" quoting PRM Doug Stewart, but subject to be increased, decreased or cancelled as $556,000 in pledges were cancelled prior to June 30, 2008. No financial statement is available from Lakeview Museum for fiscal year July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. Working financial sheets have been requested by the county including an undated Operating Budget, a budget originally estimated to be between $4.1-4.3 million yearly with these operating costs projected to be $8+ million by year 2032.

The Endowment Fund of $3 million (committed to the county when the project was "sold" to the board) and a total of $5 million "assumed" later. The money was reputedly invested with the Community Foundation. PRM Committeeman Doug Stewart, a banker, said the Foundation would need $14 million.

The October report indicated that the IMAX Theatre is budgeted at $1.6+ million. News from other publications that museum projects similar to this one are being trimmed back, delayed or cancelled has not been mentioned by any of the local media. No media appears to be requesting factual information as to the status of this 8-9 year old project, that was projected to be up and running by now. If you think about, why not, the answer is obvious. Hint, advertising dollars.

New of the failings of the Bloomington Coliseum has also been missing from the Journal Star.

It is my belief that the new tax spending bill approved by Congress last week that includes funds for museums, trail, recreation, etc., will complete the funding of this boondoggle. 70%+ funded by the taxpayers and 30% funded by the private "big hitters". Just the opposite as promised by Brad McMillan and the PRM Committee. Count on Congressman Aaron Schock to come through. Count on Peoria to get a share of these "earmarks". After all, if we don't take the money, someone else will.

And why would the CEO Roundtable, who originally planned to raise the $10 million shortage, donate their private dollars when the museum can be largely funded by taxes?

What a way to run a country. Eventually downhill, burdened by what is becoming overwhelming current and future debt, and downhill at a faster rate than it is going now.

If anyone can disprove any of the blogs I've written about this "mess" as called by our employee, Mark Johnson, I would be glad to host a press conference and present the FACTS and sources of the facts.

The term "project" means the entire original $128 million including Caterpillar's early estimate of a $41 million VC and the City of Peoria contribution of $18.5 million plus millions of dollars pledged or already given to the "project" by State, County and Federal governments. The museum itself, now projected to cost $77 million is a part of the sales taxes to be used the help buikd the musuem itself. Build, not endow or support.

This site will continue to give you, to borrow a phrase, "the rest of the story".


Billy Dennis said...

C.J. Summers has a great post up about the "irrational exuberance" for museum projects.

Merle Widmer said...

Figure what Caterpillar is saying and the Visitors Center is now planned in the $37 million category.

Even that decreased amount may depend on the economic conditions in 2010.